The childhood home of Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle is a wonderful place to visit, filled with history and gorgeous gardens.
The original castle was built in 1270 and converted into a manor in the mid 15th century when it was the family home of the Boleyns. It fell into disrepair before being rescued by the wealthy American William Waldorf Astor who turned the surrounded marshland into stunning gardens between 1904 and 1908. It is now privately run, and hosts a wide range of events throughout the year.
To start with the beautiful gardens laid out by Joseph Cheal and Son. It took 800 men two years to dig the 38 acre lake at the end of the Italian Garden, with the fountain inspired by Rome’s Travi fountain.
There are over 5,000 rose bushes in the walled Rose Garden, filled with colourful bloom in late June.
There is some fun topiary.
There are so many areas of the garden to explore, it’s easy to spend a full day here.
Venturing into the house it is surprisingly modest in scale, though filled with intricate details including an original lock from one of Henry VIII’s stays. He brought his own locksmith with him wherever he went.
William Waldorf Astor spent vast sums restoring the house, modernising some parts to make them suitable for high class living in the early 20th century.
He was also responsible for building the extensive ‘Tudor Village’ of buildings for guest accommodation.
Upstairs is a mannequin of Hever Castle’s most famous guest, Henry VIII, and his fur covered bed.
On the extensive grounds was the unexpected KSY Military Museum, opened in 2015 to tell the story of the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry.
To finish with possibly my favourite part of Hever, the intricate doll’s houses depicting different Royal Palaces over the centuries, which can be found at the back of the gift shop.
The attention to detail is incredible.